First — sign your property up on REALNYS.COM, and spread the word to your neighbors.
REAL NYS gathers and posts information (aggregated counts only) about the land and landowners of New York that do not want fracking on their land. They will use it to boost our influence in the State. The gas companies claim that they are waiting to frack over 800,000 acres in New York owned by pro-fracking landowners. As of this writing, RealNYS represents over 63,000 acres and over 3200 landowners. Sign you land up and be counted against fracking. REALNYS.COM
Ten Tips on Working for a Town Moratorium and Ban
1) Discuss and identify local concerns within this issue with the friends and neighbors you know best. Some issues you might discuss include:
- Even safe drilling would destroy:
- The natural beauty of the community.
- The rural heritage and culture of the community.
- The economy of the region – agriculture and tourism. These industries wouldn’t return when the drillers have gone.
- The intense industrial infrastructure that drilling requires includes compressor stations and miles of pipelines. Both are largely unregulated. This and the amount of wells planned for the region would turn our communities into an industrial landscape.
- The trucking needed to bring supplies, water, and chemicals to and from well pads will be destructive to the community:
- The exhaust from the many, many trucks that would have to travel our roads would pollute our air
- The number of trucks required to bring water and chemicals to and from the drill pads will be hazardous on our narrow rural roads, and the constant repair of roads would be a huge financial burden on our small town budgets.
- Fracking can’t be done safely:
- There is no good way to dispose of the fracking waste water filled with chemicals and radiation
- Regulations can’t protect us from bad actors that cut corners or do things improperly, either by accident, through carelessness or on purpose. The evidence of this is all around us – in the Gulf, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc.
2) Build community support for your ideas through existing community groups and by informal meetings with friends and neighbors. In the long run it is often most beneficial to work somewhat quietly as opposed to making a lot of noise. Be respectful of the opinions of those you disagree with.
3) Reach out to the larger community via mailings, door-to-door conversations and meetings. Informational postcards can be produced and mailed to all property owners or everyone on a postal route for a minimal cost.
4) Take the measure of community support with an online petition. Consider wording along the lines of, “We, the undersigned, believe that we must protect our town from the effects of becoming industrialized by gas hydro-fracking and instead should seek other solutions to our economic needs. We call upon the Town Board of ______ to pass legislation to ban heavy industry and fracking traffic within our town borders.
Post your petition at SignOn.org ( http://signon.org/create_start.html?source=homepage ), then contact townspeople and ask them to sign on. Numbers are important here.
5) If needed, find your town officials contact information at the links below. Acquaint yourself with the board members, and try to attend all monthly board meetings regardless of what is on the agenda.
6) Once your petition has enough signatories, politely present the petition to the town board by asking for “privilege of the floor” at a meeting. Convey to your board that the townspeople want the board to seriously consider the concerns the petition addresses.
7) Keep in mind that it is rarely beneficial to directly confront board members by putting them on the spot or calling them out, especially in public. Most of our small communities have town boards that put in a lot of time and energy working hard for the betterment of the townspeople. These positions are underpaid, and the work required often comes before or after a long day at a full-time job. Extend to your town board the respect and courtesy it deserves. If the board is sympathetic to you and your group they will naturally be more agreeable to your ideas and concerns.
8) If it seems appropriate, ask the board to hold a special Town Meeting on the issue of gas drilling.
9) Try to work with your town board in support of ideas that appeal to your group as well as the board members. Show support for those board members who are most open to your ideas by encouraging them, providing them with additional information, voter support, and by making it known that they are appreciated. Allow your board members to be in favor of something rather then being “against” something.
10) Next encourage those most like-minded board members to help you with the fence-sitters. Later you can move outward by working on board members who are the next most open. Search for common ground on issues most town board members are naturally concerned with including:
- Property rights.
- Landowner rights.
- Exercising home rule.
- The threat of compulsory integration.
- The threat of large corporations and big government pushing around a small town.
- Defense of the town’s comprehensive plan.
- Threats to town roads and other infrastructure.
- Property seizure through eminent domain.
- Devalued land resulting in lower property values.
- Lower property values resulting in higher taxes.
For a list of websites which discuss the above issues in relation to gas drilling please scroll down.
The issue of a town exercising its legal powers of home rule may resonate best with the town board. Try to convey the idea that a moratorium or ban on drilling by a town exercising its powers of home rule does not need to shut the door on economic development. Rather it recognizes the town’s right to pursue economic development in a way that’s consistent with the entire community’s established and documented goals and vision of the future, not the trampling of those values by outsiders. New York State’s long tradition of home rule is consistent with the conservative principal of landowner rights and self determination while offering an opportunity for those who have specific economic and environmental concerns to have a mechanism to pursue community-specific intentions.
If your town board refuses to represent the will of the majority of town residents on this issue you will need to elect new town board members. This is not necessarily as difficult as it may seem.
Informational Websites and Organizations
Community & Environmental Issues